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United States

The critical monetary and financial situation during Cleveland's second administration is understandable only in the light of a series of acts which were passed between 1878 and 1893. It will be remembered that in the former year the Bland-Allison act had provided for the purchase and coinage of two million to four million dollars' worth of silver bullion per month, and that the force behind the measure had been found chiefly among westerners who wished to see the volume of the currency increased and among mine owners who were producing silver.

To write an account of the history of the United States since the Civil War without bias, without misstatements of fact and without the omission of matters that ought to be included, would be to perform a miracle. I have felt no wonder-working near me. I can claim only to have attempted to overcome the natural limitations of having been brought up in a particular region and with a traditional political, economic and social philosophy.

The political situation in 1896, when the parties began to prepare for the presidential election, was more complex than it had been since 1860.

Abraham Lincoln in the presidential chair was regarded by many of the politicians of his party as an "unutterable calamity"; and while the news of Lincoln's assassination was received with expressions of genuine grief, the accession of Vice-President Andrew Johnson was looked upon as a "Godsend to the country." As the Civil War came to a close, Lincoln opposed severe punishments for the leaders of the Confederacy; he urged respect for the rights of the southern people; he desired to recognize the existence of a Union element in the South, to restore the states to their usual relations with

The ceremonies attendant upon the inauguration of William McKinley on March 4, 1897, were typical of the care-taking generalship of Mark Hanna. The details of policing the crowds had been foreseen and attended to; the usual military review was effectively carried out to the last particular; "the Republican party was coming back to power as the party of organization, of discipline, of unquestioning obedience to leadership."[1]

Aside from President Lincoln, the most prominent personality on the northern side during the latter part of the Civil War was General Ulysses S. Grant. His successes in the Mississippi Valley in the early days of the war, when success was none too common, his capture of Vicksburg at the turning point of the conflict, and his dogged drive toward Richmond had established his military reputation.

"The guns of Admiral Dewey did something more than destroy a Spanish fleet in the harbor of Manila. Their echo came back to us in a question new in the history of our government." The new problem was Imperialism - was it wise policy and was it constitutional to annex and govern territories outside the limits of continental North America?

With the close of Grant's administration, the main immediate problems connected with political reconstruction came to an end. During the war, however, important economic and social developments had been taking place throughout the United States which were destined to take on greater and greater significance. The reconstruction problem looked backward to the war; the new developments looked forward to a new America. Reconstruction affected fewer and fewer people as time went on; the later changes ultimately transformed the daily life of every individual in the nation.

Most of the tendencies which characterized the growth of population, the expansion of the West, the concentration of the people in cities, the development of manufacturing and agriculture, and the extension of the railway system, from 1870 to 1890, were equally significant during the two decades following the latter year. Nevertheless there were important differences of detail in the tendencies of the later period; and about the year 1900 in particular there occurred changes that were far-reaching.

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